1 October 2010
X-Factor and 'Cementgate' are not the news
SERIOUS congratulations to the inspired Sinn Féin legend who coined the term “Trucky Ár Lá” (and taken up by one of the red-top tabloids the following day).
But am I the only person nonplussed by the massive media coverage the event soaked up this week? Maybe it is a case of 'Bah, humbug' but these are serious times, with grave problems that need complex discussion about how and who got us into this 'mess' (safe word for economic black hole) and who will get us out.
This week, the news media, from online to print, made a hero of Joe McNamara, who blocked the Kildare Street entrance to Leinster House on Wednesday 29 September with his brightly-adorned cement mixer.
It's never easy to decide what is newsworthy and many of us, I hope, often despair about what is news sometimes when we turn on the radio, television open a newspaper or go online.
Did I really need to know that Dannii Minogue believes that being an X-Factor judge has helped get her ready for motherhood? It was front page of the Mirror this week, or what was the value of hourly news bulletins speculating on whether Rory McElroy would be paired against Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup? He hasn't yet if you are worried about it.
Also this week, tens of thousands of people marched across the European Union as part of a protest against budget cutbacks. In Dublin, there were 1,500 people protesting, according to the Irish Times, Independent, Sun and Daily Mirror; 1,000 in the Examiner, hundreds in the Star and Daily Mail. Why can journalists not count?
In many papers, news and TV news programmes, the top story was not the protests or the Anglo Irish Bank bail-out it was the blocking of the gates of Leinster House by Joe McNamara. Joe Duffy's Liveline, RTÉ news and many other news outlets profiled 'The Anglo Avenger'. The Sun photo-shopped his head onto a superhero costume.
It is not that McNamara's protest was not newsworthy but the organisations who hyped it were the same news media that gave a platform to the auction politics of the last decade, the same news media that derided Sinn Féin's concerns about Fianna Fáil's economic policies, the growth of housing prices, the value for money of government spending and the wisdom of fuelling economic growth through tax cuts.
I could go on and on.
The news media were wrong on the economy and wrong on targeting Sinn Féin. So we shouldn't depend on them to tell us now what is the most important news of the day.